#ARTBASELHK13: 032C Magazine Makes A Race For Hong Kong, We Speak With HK Native and Friend, Editor Carson Chan
This Thursday 032C Magazine will be making its Hong Kong debut via a block beer party during Art Basel week… at where else… but Kapok on Sun Street of course. This seemingly low kew shindig is a pretty big debut considering 032C is currently one of the most sought after “Style” magazines around. We’re talking Fashion, Art, Design, and Architecture turned upside down and inside out. In the last issue alone (and there are only two issues a year) we find a conversation between Wolfgang Tillmans and Neil Tennant, Cory Arcangel and Paul Chan, sculptor Thomas Houseago interviewed by Cornelius Tettel, photographed by Hedi Slimane, and a report on the Dutch countryside by Rem Koolhaas.
Although publisher/managing director, Sandra von Mayer-Myrtenhain, will be in town to meet and greet guests and followers of the magazine, my real connection is with a pal and ex-university colleague, Carson Chan, who is currently the magazine’s Editor-at-Large, and who has had his eye on Asia for awhile, not just because of China’s cultural and consumerist power, but Hong Kong is where his family is from. Last month, Carson tapped my shoulders earlier to brainstorm a Hong Kong debut for the latest issue, a tell-all by Nicolas Ghesquiere and Cate Blanchett in bondage.
Carson Chan (left). Courtesy of Biennial of the Americas.
On top of being Editor, Carson ran a multi-disciplinary artist-in-residence non-profit gallery, PROGRAM. He also just completed his work curating the Marrakech Biennale, and now is on to make a mark at the Biennial of the Americas in Denver.
We sit with the busy boy and discuss our lives at Architecture school and the paths he took since with 032C Magazine.
theW+: Hi Carson, so we’ve been classmates since the first year of Cornell Architecture, and at Cornell we’ve always dabbled beyond the confines of the Architectural program, for example remember the year we both worked on bringing in Fashion Designers from New York City, AsFour, Diva Pittala, Adrian Cowen and Benjamin Cho, whose works we thought had a more architectural/formalist edge. As well as worked with artists and other architects whose works had a fashion edge like John Demas and Sarah Morhaim, tell me did these University Projects influence the way you chose your path after you and I graduated the program?
Carson Chan at the’Emerging Fashions’ Architecture show at Cornell University School of Architecture in Ithaca in 2002. Exhibition curated by Carson Chan and JJ.Acuna.
CC: Definitely, there’s no question in my mind that the intellectual freedom and seemingly limitless opportunities at Cornell Architecture led me down the path I have taken since. I remember that one of the first things we were told was that the we were in school to learn how to see the world through architecture, not necessarily to learn how to build buildings. The sensibility towards space, form, function, context and history that was ingrained in me at Cornell has been key to my work as a writer, editor, and curator.
Julian Charriere and Andreas Greiner at Carson Chan’s PROGRAM Berlin, 2011.
theW+: Your role as Editor-at-Large at the very influential “Style” magazine 032c reflects your earlier interests in Fashion, Art, and Architecture. How did you get to this point and what about 032c excites you?
CC: For me, 032c is first and foremost a physicalization of our chief editor Joerg Koch’s imagination. His eclectic worldview is what has driven the magazine for the past 13 years, from the first issue on; it’s an almanac of his various obsessions. I think the quality that people appreciate most about it is its intellectual freedom and generosity. Few so-called style or fashion magazines would have embarked on some of the things we’ve done. Issue 19 (Summer 2010) featured almost 50 pages on American novelist William T. Vollmann; Issue 23 (Winter 2012/2013) featured a cover dossier on contemporary farm machinery along with an essay on re-thinking the countryside by Rem Koolhaas. We publish interviews with historian Eric Hobsbawm the same way we would with the elusive fashion photographer Steven Meisel.
Barkow Leibinger “Loom Hyperbolic” at the Marrakech Biennale, curated by Carson Chan 2012.
theW+: What do you feel about Asia at the moment? Magazines like Monocle, Surface, and Wallpaper* have made big in roads here in the last few years. What do you think 032c can contribute to the market and do you think readers here will understand where you guys are coming from?
CC: It’s an interesting question because it’s not the type of thing we discuss much in our editorial meetings, perhaps at our own disadvantage. We have a large following in Europe and in North America, and a growing one in Japan - but in general, as a platform for communication, we’re definitely interested in reaching out to new audiences. Our publisher, Sandra von Mayer-Myrtenhain is currently visiting Beijing and Hong Kong to learn more about the current cultural climate, and learn how we can participate. Issue 5 (Summer 2003) was called the Shanghai issue; it featured original photography from Wing Shya, Oliver Helbig, Heiji Shin; Joerg and Sandra spent time there to develop it, but where in 2003 the attitude was very much one of observation, today we see ourselves as viable contributor to contemporary Asia. The magazine’s byline is “Manual for Freedom, Research and Creativity,” a mantra that people in Asia are embracing in all aspects of their lives.
Elin Hansdottir “Mud Brick Spiral”, curated by Carson Chan for the Marrakech Biennale 2012.